1956 was Brigitte Bardot’s breakthrough year – the year that saw the release of Et Dieu Créa La Femme and, with it, the creation of her persona as a sex kitten.
In April that year, 21 years old and already with over 10 films to her credit, she attends the Cannes Film Festival. The Jury Special Prize goes to The Mystery of Picasso by Henri-Georges Clouzot.
Perhaps that’s what prompts Bardot to visit Picasso at his studio at Vallauris in the hills above Cannes. After all, it’s less 15 minutes’ drive away. In her memoir, Bardot writes:
He showed me his canvases, his ceramics, his studio. He was simple, intelligent, a bit indifferent and lovely. That was our first and last encounter. I often wanted to ask him to make a portrait of me, but I never dared…
Well, that’s her version of the story. A rather different one comes from Lydia Corbett, his neighbour and muse at the time (you may recognise her as Sylvette). It sounds like there might have been a bit of needle between the two girls. Here’s Corbett’s account:
I only had one, brief meeting with Brigitte Bardot, when we passed each other on the promenade at Cannes during the film festival of 1954. She was on Vadim’s arm and I was on Picasso’s, and of course we took a long look at each other and the men took a long look at us…
Then, two years later:
…Bardot came [to Picasso’s studio] with another neighbor, the film director Roger Vadim… She really wanted to be painted by him but Picasso refused, saying he would only have one model at a time…
Or perhaps he didn’t want to upset Vadim – who had a house nearby and was married to Bardot at the time.
Want to know more about Picasso and Bardot?
- The big picture: Brigitte Bardot visits Pablo Picasso in Cannes, 1956
- Bardot meets Picasso
- Cannes: Picasso’s Muse Claims ‘Brigitte Bardot Stole My Look’
One more thing…
Picasso had come to live in Vallauris in 1949. That year, Paul Haesaerts made Visite Picasso, a documentary that shows the artist painting on glass. Watch Picasso conjure up wonderful images with just a few, simple brushstrokes.